3 Foodie Memoirs to Read Over the Long Weekend

published May 23, 2014
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(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

This Memorial Day Weekend, you won’t find me outside grilling or shaking out my tent. Nope, you’ll find this book nerd curled up on the couch (or perhaps, if it’s warm enough, a park bench) with my nose in one of these three just-released food memoirs: Delancey by Molly Wizenberg, A Farm Dies Once a Year by Arlo Crawford, and Under Magnolia by Frances Mayes. Think I can get through all of them before we have to go back to work?!

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Delancey: A Man, A Woman, A Restaurant, A Marriage by Molly Wizenberg

First up, Molly Wizenberg’s newest book Delancey. This book tells the story of Molly’s first years with her now-husband Brandon Pettit, his unlikely (or maybe not?!) path to becoming a restaurant owner, and Molly’s own surprise at suddenly finding herself involved in the whole business.

Confession: I’m already a third of the way through the book; I couldn’t wait for the long weekend. Besides getting pulled in by Molly’s unique witty-meets-dreamy writing style, I’m also completely fascinated by her descriptions of the raw process of opening a restaurant. Recipe testing ad nauseam, the heartbreak of finding the “perfect” space only to have it fall through, various regulations to check and double-check… Considering all the hoops a person has to jump through before they even get to the point of actually opening a restaurant, I totally understand Molly’s surprise at actually getting there.

So far, this is a fun, engaging read, perfect for long sunlit hours on the couch.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

A Farm Dies Once a Year: A Memoir by Arlo Crawford

I’ve come across a few of Arlo Crawford’s pieces over the past year, most notably here in the Atlantic and here in the New York Times, so I’m excited to spend some time with his full-length memoir. In A Farm Dies Once a Year, Arlo talks about returning to his parents’ farm as an adult and spending a full season working alongside his father. It’s partly about farming, yes, but it’s also about the strange, uncomfortable situation of having to return to a place you thought you’d long ago left behind.

This promises to be a different kind of memoir from the “back-to-the-earth” stories of starry-eyed urbanites leaving high paying jobs for the dream of a farm in the country. Arlo’s tone is meditative and measured; less idealistic and more realistic.

(Image credit: Emma Christensen)

Under Magnolia: A Southern Memoir by Frances Mayes

If you read Under the Tuscan Sun, you know this memoir of Frances Mayes’ childhood in Georgia is going to be a treat. Frances Mayes is the queen of description, capable of drawing a scene so vivid and detailed that it feels like you’re right there standing beside her. Under Magnolia isn’t a food memoir per se, but think of it as an origin story for the food-loving lady Frances Mayes would eventually become. I’m betting it’s full of delicious little observations of Southern flavors, aromas, and food memories. Only one way to find out!

What other food memoir or food-related books are you reading right now?